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December 2nd, 2013
11:29 AM ET

Rush Limbaugh: Pope is preaching 'pure Marxism'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis:  Successor to St. Peter ... the people's pontiff ... Marxist?

That's what conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh suggests, calling the Pope's latest document "pure Marxism."

Limbaugh blasted the pontiff on Wednesday, a day after Francis released "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), a 50,000-word statement that calls for church reform and castigates elements of modern capitalism.

Limbaugh's segment, now online and entitled "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis Is (Unless It's a Deliberate Mistranslation By Leftists)," takes direct aim at the pope's economic views, calling them "dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."

The Vatican issued the English translation of "Evangelii," which is known officially as an apostolic exhortation and unofficially as a pep talk to the worlds 1.5 billion Catholics.

Francis - the first pope ever to hail from Latin America, where he worked on behalf of the poor in his native Argentina warned in "Evangelii" that the "idolatry of money" would lead to a "new tyranny."

The Pope also blasted "trickle-down economics," saying the theory "expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power."

READ MORE: Pope Francis: No more business as usual

The Pope's critique of capitalism thrilled many liberal Catholics, who have long called on church leaders to spend more time and energy on protecting the poor from economic inequalities.

But Limbaugh, whose program is estimated to reach 15 million listeners, called the Pope's comments "sad" and "unbelievable."

"It's sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth."

In fact, Argentina was a battlefield between leftist socialists and right-wing security forces during much of Francis' early career in the country, where he was a Jesuit priest and later archbishop of Buenos Aires.

Limbaugh, who is not Catholic, said he admires the faith "profoundly."  He admired Pope Francis as well, "up until this," Limbaugh said.

The talk show host also said that he has made numerous visits to the Vatican, which he said "wouldn't exist without tons of money."

"But regardless, what this is, somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," Limbaugh added. "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."

Limbaugh took particular issue with the Pope's criticism of the "culture of prosperity," which the pontiff called a "mere spectacle" for the many people who can't afford to participate.

"This is almost a statement about who should control financial markets," Limbaugh said. "He says that the global economy needs government control."

"I'm not Catholic, but I know enough to know that this would have been unthinkable for a pope to believe or say just a few years ago," Limbaugh continued.

In fact, Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, could be just as strong a critic of capitalism.

In 2009, Benedict, in an official church document called an encyclical, said there was an urgent need for "a political, juridical and economic order" that would "manage the global economy."

As Limbaugh notes, Benedict's predecessor, the late Pope John Paul II, was a noted foe of communism, after living under its oppressions in his native Poland. But even John Paul thought that unregulated capitalism could have negative consequences.

In "Evangelii," Francis called for more of a spiritual and ethical revolution than a regulatory one.

"I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: `Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs,'" said Francis, quoting the fifth-century St. John Chrysostom.

Liberal Catholics defended Pope Francis on Monday, calling on Limbaugh to apologize and retract his remarks.

"To call the Holy Father a proponent 'pure Marxism' is both mean-spirited and naive," said Christopher Hale of the Washington-based Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. "Francis's critique of unrestrained capitalism is in line with the Church's social teaching."

Limbaugh is not the only conservative commentator to take issue with the Pope's views on capitalism.

READ MORE: Sarah Palin 'taken aback' by Pope Francis's 'liberal' statements

“I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney, who is an Episcopalian. "It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.”

It doesn't sound like the criticism is slowing Francis down, however. He's started sending a Vatican contingent, including the Papal Swiss Guards, into Rome to deliver food and charity.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Ethics • Media • Money & Faith • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis

soundoff (6,695 Responses)
  1. Bob

    “I go to church to save my soul," said Fox News' Stuart Varney, who is an Episcopalian. "It’s got nothing to do with my vote. Pope Francis has linked the two. He has offered direct criticism of a specific political system. He has characterized negatively that system. I think he wants to influence my politics.” Funny. Every time someone says "Separation of Church and State" Fox News throws a hissy fit and tries to say that the Founding Fathers never meant that and that we're a Christian nation and vilifies anything that isn't 100% Christian.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  2. realoldguy

    What's most ridiculous is that none of these conservatives have a clue what "Marxism" is - it's just another one of the slurs they sling around in their ongoing character assassination of anybody who disagrees with them. Come to think of it, are conservatives good at anything besides insulting people? Do they have any original ideas? Do they read anything other than those rant books with the really big print? Have they ever lived a day without watching the teevee?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  3. Batman

    AND??

    This is Rush Limbaugh, it's just entertainment. Does anyone really take him seriously? What a waste of headline space...

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Mopery

      Isn't entertainment supposed to be entertaining?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  4. David

    The most dangerous thing about Rush is that so many people take him seriously. He's just a radio circus clown. It amazes me that people listen to this buffoon. It's the conservative comedy hour. Coulter and Beck cut from the same cloth.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  5. Lemon Talks

    WHY FOX NEWS IN NUMBER ONE IN RATINGS.

    there top story is The Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear a challenge to ObamaCare brought by a Virginia-based Christian university, ending for now one of the biggest remaining legal fights against the health care law.

    CNN: RUSH VS. POPE

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  6. Catherine

    The Pope is right on target, and I'm not even a Catholic, okay?

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  7. betty

    Words from the most ignorant, drug abusing, loud mouth, right winged fool this country has ever known.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  8. Emma Morrow

    Headline story on CNN is this?
    Wow, CNN really hates Rush Limbaugh!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  9. Sashatree

    LIMBAUGH IS A SELF-PROMOTING BAG OF DRUG ADDLED LARD – WHY LOWER YOURSELVES EVEN MORE BY GIVING HIM 1 INCH OF COVERAGE? SHAME ON YOU CNN. YOU REALLY ARE BECOMING TABLOID NEWS!! WATCH YOUR STEP! FOLKS LIKE ME ARE SPENDING MORE AND MORE TIME ON AL JEZERA, BBC, NPR, ETC. THE POPE IS ACTING IN THE MOST "CHRIST-LIKE" MANNER OF ANY I'VE WITNESSED IN MY NEARLY 60 YRS ON EARTH - BLESS HIM FOR IT!! HE FORSAKES THE TRAPPINGS OF "THE PAPAL OFFICE", LIVES MODESTLY, AND WANTS TO SERVE THE POOR AND CONDEMNS THE MONEY LOVERS & GREEDY CAPITALISTS!! EXACTLY WHAT CHRIST DID AND WOULD DO TODAY!!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • G

      I couldn't agree more and I don't even go to church. The new pope is great. I might just start going again.

      December 2, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  10. Megan Hunsdale

    Rush L. wouldn't know a Marxist if he fell over one. What a fool.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  11. The One Who Knows

    Since no one else can, I willd efend Rush and his comments...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    I got nothing.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  12. BBT

    The very fact that CNN thinks Rush is newsworthy shows how it has little more credibility than the National Enquirer. This Pope is brilliant and Limbaugh is a foolish amoral patsy for the tea-party nutjobs.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  13. Diraphe

    As an atheist who was raised in a Catholic family and attended Catholic school; I can tell you Rush is correct

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • The One Who Knows

      As an athiest who knows nothing aboout God, how do you know Rush is correct?

      December 2, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
      • igaftr

        Pure marxism? There is no such thing...Marxism has been re-written almost as much as the bible has. There are even parts of "marxism" that contradict other parts of "marxism" ( again, like the bible.)

        What is "pure Marxism"? I doubt that Marx or Engels themselves would recognize what you call Marxism.

        December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
      • Diraphe

        What does god have to do with Marxism?

        December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  14. Bart

    The Pope's lesson comes from Jesus' teachings. When people feel threatened, they lash out and call people names.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  15. Rush to Judgement

    Rush will do/say anything for ratings. The Pope was referring to Idolatry of Money, and his opinion that "trickle-down economics expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." I am republican and quite conservative. But Pope Francis is spot in with this assessment. Rush, your "rush to judgement" shows how naive you are!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  16. Lynnard-FL

    hee-hee-hee!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  17. vevo

    reminds me of my newspaper delivery boy who thought he was qualified to critique willie mays' swing because the paper he delivered had a sports section. shut up rush.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  18. Elizabeth Chandler

    This gasbag needs to be removed from the airwaves.Pope Francis was right in his assesment that we are naive to believe in the goodness and generosity of those that wield economic power.They have the power and are gonna keep the power. As for Rush Limbaugh, all he's gonna do is run his mouth.Pope Francis, YOU ROCK!!

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  19. justin

    As if the Pope cares what this loser drug addict thinks. He's a fat loser. No one is going to care when he dies.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  20. Steel On Target

    Why does anyone care what Rush Limbaugh thinks? The man needs to fade away already.

    December 2, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.